Monday, 6 February 2017

Tradition and Voices From the Past

(journaled July 8, 2016)

I was thinking about what to read "for devotions" this morning, and I ended up reading some of the "Streams in the Desert" passages for the past week. I do find them encouraging and helpful, and I hear Your voice speaking through the voices of past children of Yours.

That is something I like about those churches and individual Christians who value the voices of Your children all through time and place. There IS value in tradition--including long-ago writings--when the purpose is to join together with You and all Your body through time and place.

Maybe growing older does engender an understanding of the value of wisdom and multi-generational stories passed down. There IS value in the "old-fashioned" even as we also learn from the new and enjoy it for its youthful enthusiasm.

Too often we "toss out the baby with the bathwater" when we turn from old to new, and we get so caught up in the novelty and excitement of the new that we fail to be wise and discerning about its excesses (or conversely, hang onto the old, refusing to be wise and discerning about its shortcomings, too).

I think one of the things that is attractive about the long-time liturgical churches, is their ability to move slowly and carefully (some would say glacially slow). Sometimes they have moved too slowly, and allowed error to dig its roots in too deeply, it's true. But there have always been individuals and movements calling for reform from within. Sometimes, those reformers have succeeded, sometimes they have suffered, been expelled, even been martyred. But more and more I am admiring those who really try to hear God's voice and respond from within the church, if possible, rather than quickly jump ship.

The trouble, it seems to me, is that when you have a church with leaders who have already been ship jumpers, it is too easy for them to be involved in yet more jumping ship. Either there is discontent that things aren't perfectly rosy now with this new group, or there is fierce determination that this new church IS perfect because it is in their own image, and they are unwilling to consider listening to God speaking through the voices of others to discern that continuing reform and growth in the Spirit is necessary. Ironic, that!

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